Vassalboro Board of Selectmen
Minutes of the Meeting
September 22, 2016
Members Present: Lauchlin Titus, Phil Haines, and Rob Browne (7:45)
Others Present: Mary Sabins, Mary Grow, Bill & Roxanne Pullen, Janet Babb, Simone Antworth, Jan Clowes, Bernie Welch, Mike Vashon, Kent London, Gene Field, Alton Stevens, and Dick Dolby
1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Titus at 7:03 p.m.
2. Minutes – On a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by L. Titus, the Board voted unanimously to accept the minutes of the 9/8/16 meeting as written.
3. Historical Society lease agreement – Former Historical Society President Kent London vehemently declared that he was not happy that the mowing contractor that used to mow the Historical Society property several years ago at a very low rate was fired by the town and replaced with a more expensive contractor that the Society is now required to pay for through deductions from the annual town appropriation for the Historical Society of $3,000. Kent stated that the original lease agreement with the Historical Society was written by Kent himself and that the town recreation department was supposed to share in the costs of the building and the lawn mowing. He complained that the recreation department left the agreement without consultation with the Society. Kent says the Society doesn’t use the lawn they are being charged to maintain; he said the lawn and parking area is used for overflow boat trailer parking from the boat launch area, which he considers recreation. Part of the lawn area is also known to be unmarked burial grounds for civil war veterans. Sabins corrected London’s first statement by saying that his first mowing contractor was not fired. The contractor was not able to conduct any string trimming around the many fence posts along the property on Rt. #32, the main thoroughfare through town, and the work looked unsightly. The town identified a similar sized parcel off the main highway at the public works garage that his contractor could mow without the need to trim, and a swap was made with the contractor who was doing that work, so that the Society’s contractor would continue to have work. Not long after, this mowing contractor resigned his position of mowing the public works garage, and the contractor who agreed to swap then agreed to mow all the parcels. Kent then complained that the town was supposed to maintain the cedar fence but hasn’t; the Society cannot maintain the fence. He also stated that the Town raised the driveway four and a half feet on the right of the building, which has caused a water problem for the Society in the bathroom ever since. He then complained about the mowing job of the current mowing contractor by stating that he had to inform the contractor of a section on the property that was supposed to be mowed but hadn’t been. Selectman Haines told Mr. London that he should have notified the town office of the omission so that the Manager could have informed the contractor of the problem. Kent also stated that the Society pays to keep old town records at no expense to the Town. In an attempt to wrap up this discussion, Selectman Haines stated that we need to talk about it and get people together to decide where the division of lawn property should be. The Town will work on it.
4. Mike Vashon was present at the meeting but withdrew his request for additional grant match funding for a FEMA fire truck grant that he is writing and is almost complete.
5. Sidewalk maintenance costs – Public Works Director Gene Field distributed a handout containing prices that he had collected for sidewalk snow removal equipment. The handout also contained prices from other towns that also conduct sidewalk clearing in the winter. The prices ranged from $25,000 for used equipment to $115K for a trackless sidewalk machine. A private snow removal contractor was also contacted, who gave a total estimated price of $30K for a three year contact. Brief discussion was given, but no formal action was taken by the Board on this agenda item.
Selectman Rob Browne arrived at this time (7:45 p.m.)
6. Loader bid – Gene Field distributed a spreadsheet summary of the four bids received. Nortrax, who bid a John Deere 544K loader at $123,400 was the apparent low bidder, and Gene recommends awarding the bid to Nortrax. Gene stated that his bid specification documents erroneously omitted transmission guards, which he would like to add as an option for an additional cost of $2,500 - $3,000. He expressed a desire to have the authority to purchase any other optional features for this John Deere loader that he may have overlooked when writing the bid specifications. After discussion, and on a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to award the loader bid to Nortrax for the John Deere 544K Loader for $123,400 and to authorize Gene Field to have the ability to add the transmission guards and other options if needed.
7. Consent agreement with Bernie Welch – In December 2015, the Selectmen had authorized the Code Officer to pursue legal action against Bernie Welch for building more than allowed with the permit he was issued for property located at 513 Main Street (the old Volmer’s Nursing Home property). The Town Attorney prepared a consent agreement for Mr. Welch and the Selectmen to sign that included a fine and reimbursement to the town for attorney fees already expended over the last nine months. The consent agreement was delivered to Mr. Welch this week, and Mr. Welch came to the meeting to contest the length of time that has gone by since the violations occurred before receiving this document, along with the requirement to pay the attorney fees. Mr. Welch stated that he did everything the Planning Board asked him to do. P. Haines offered that Mr. Welch had a permit and did more than what he was permitted to do. Mr. Welch stated that he thought he could put two apartment units in, plus his son’s residence in the main house. He said he miscounted and misunderstood; he considered the house separate from the wing containing the apartments. Five dwelling units were actually created in the structure. The Code Officer Dick Dolby gave a summary of the case history as it unfolded, and the work that he had done to attempt to get Mr. Welch into compliance within a 90 day redemption period; when compliance did not occur within that time frame, Mr. Dolby sought permission in December 2015 from the Selectmen to pursue legal action. Town Attorney Alton Stevens was at the meeting and he admitted the time delay in getting the consent agreement out was his fault due to trial work that occupied his time. Attorney Stevens stated that Mr. Welch initially applied for a permit with a work plan which stated an estimated value of the work at $1,000. He further stated that Mr. Welch clearly exceeded the work stated on the permit application. He emphasized that Mr. Welch is an intelligent person and Mr. Stevens stated he has a hard time believing Mr. Welch didn’t know what he was doing. He feels Mr. Welch just did what he thought he could get away with. Mr. Welch responded that he was not going around the system – he was just trying to understand the system. Mr. Welch pleaded ignorance and asked how he was supposed to know he needed a permit for wall construction. He stated his $1,000 work estimate was for plumbing work, which he did himself. CEO Dolby stated that the homeowner is not permitted to do the plumbing work himself in a commercial structure. Extended discussion ensued, and Mr. Welch declared he still didn’t see why he should be held responsible for attorney fees. Selectman Titus suggested that possibly some of the attorney fees could be deducted and he suggested Mr. Welch be given the itemized list of attorney fees, and then Mr. Welch should plan to come to the office next week to meet with CEO Dolby and Town Manager Sabins to discuss the matter further. No further action was taken on this agenda item.
8. Reports – a. Road Report - On a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the report as presented. b. First Responders’ Report - On a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the report as presented. Brief discussion was given about the concerns of the First Responders that the quality of the dispatch service has diminished. Sabins will write a letter of concern to the Department Head of that State Department. c. Financial Report - On a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the report as presented.
9. Treasurer’s Warrants – On a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve warrants #19 and #20.
10. Other – 1. On a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to sign the proclamation to declare the week of September 17 -23, 2016 as Constitution Week. 2. After brief discussion, and on a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to nominate Elery Keene to serve as a Director for the Municipal Review Committee. 3. Receipt of a thank you note from Hospice for the annual appropriation was noted. 4. Bill Pullen asked permission to hold another car show on the town office lawn and driveway during next year’s Vassalboro Days celebration. The Board of Selectmen approved the request.
11. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.
These minutes were read and accepted by the Board of Selectmen on 10/6/16 with the following amendments: None.